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An important part of being more human is to choose your moments and not post for posting’s sake – something many a community manager (including me, for a time) is guilty of.

When Mark was at Expedia, the team made a conscious decision not to publish to a strict schedule. Instead, they’d pay attention to what the real world was talking about and, where appropriate, they’d get involved in that conversation.

Mark explains that thinking in terms of time frames and planning ahead is key to success here. Community managers can prepare for things like Valentine’s Day well in advance. Events like the Superbowl or Academy Awards, where outcomes are unclear, can prompt content to be prepared in advance just in case something with a link to your business pops up. Meanwhile, as is often the case, events will come out of nowhere. Act quickly and get the tone right and you’ll have a winning social post that trend-jacks its way to the top of the conversation.

When it comes to customer care, especially when emotions are running high, Mark says brands need to “have empathy, be human, be considerate.”

“Brands often take the media part seriously but not the social part.”

Resolution 2: “I will use more data, and I’ll use it responsibly”

When we use social media and apps we leave behind a lot of breadcrumbs that businesses can take advantage of. That places a lot of power in the hands of marketers.

“Data is hugely available. Marketers have a responsibility to use that data in the right way.”

And that goes from invading people’s privacy through to wasting their time with poorly targeted ads.

On the other hand, data related to marketing activities also needs to be used better, Mark thinks.

“Marketers also have the responsibility to use data to make decisions. Too often we rely on gut feeling.”

When looking at the results of a new campaign, it’s important to go beyond ‘vanity metrics’ like likes and shares, Mark says. The sentiment of mentions around your campaign, or the actions people take when they get onto your website after interacting with that campaign, are the kinds of metrics that will help you make meaningful decisions and prove the ROI of your work.

“Take the data, understand the data, use it to optimize and make decisions.”

It’s important to share data beyond the social team, too.

“Take the data about what the real world is talking about and give it to your organization.”

Every team can benefit from social data, Mark says. By listening to the right words, the whole business can be empowered to make better decisions.

Resolution 3: “I will play nicely with others”

Mark’s final resolution relates to what we spoke about when sharing data in #2.

“Often social is the responsibility of the marketing or PR and comms team, but actually every team across the organization can benefit from it,” he says.

Mark’s got a theory about social media:

“Social is the new digital.”

When he first said it I felt a bit skeptical – it sounds like a pretty generic marketing buzz-phrase (if that’s a word) – but he soon convinces me that it’s got some legs.

“Think back ten years when businesses had to re-think and adapt and change across all aspects – not just marketing. Social should be approached in the same way.”

He goes on to explain how social can be used across a number of departments that wouldn’t usually be associated with social. Examples included recruitment (when it comes to raising awareness of a company’s culture as well as posting job ads and vetting candidates), sales (through paid ads and social selling, or relationship building), and customer support (dealing with queries and feeding them back into the product team).

“Social teams need to preach the gospel of social to all departments,” he says.

Many thanks to Mark for his time and tips. You can find him on LinkedIn here.

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